Kidnapped 7 – Fox and Hounds

When I got back to the hotel I sent a message across to Cyclops with the info about the hut in the village to see whether he might be able to track something down. I had in mind he might be able to use Google Earth as a starter just to see if he could see anything useful. Sometimes it turns up trumps sometimes it blows out. If it blew out we would have to move in and locate the camp.

The baby sitters and surveillance car were sharing the job of watching O’Hara and we did not know when they would be back. By about 3.30pm everyone else was back at the hotel except the cars so we had a get together to check progress and to watch the video. The shopping trip had gone fairly well and they had managed to locate and hire a suitable rigid inflatable (RIB) and get supplies of nautical equipment and dive gear. Everything was in line with what a dive club would need for a safe trip. They had also hired a container to store everything in and had stocked it up accordingly.

I brought everyone up to speed with what we had been up to and then we watched the video. Getting the hotel to let me borrow a video player had proved a bit harder than you would have thought, but eventually they sorted one out for me. We sat and watched the video again. There is not much to say about the video that I hadn’t said before really. There sat JR, expressionless, looking straight at the camera, talking in a flat non emotional way. But the hands never stopped moving.

The hands.

The movements.

Suddenly I knew.

I didn’t understand but I knew.

The reason I knew but didn’t understand is because I don’t understand sign language.

The crafty bastard was saying one thing but telling us another. What a pro.

Now we needed to find someone who could tell us what he was saying. This was not going to be easy. Maybe its old age and paranoia, but you just never know who is involved with who, so we had to be very careful in who we approached to get this deciphered. I did not want to go to O’Hara for obvious reasons and I was loathe to go to the police or the authorities. They would barge in and cock things up very nicely. Hostage negotiation is a very tricky and delicate matter and rescuing a hostage is fraught with danger for rescuers and hostage.

In the end I figured that our best option was to speak to Mr Platt from the insurance company. Maybe I could appeal to his wallet and Christmas bonus.

Time was against me and there was a good chance he would have left the office for the day by the time I rang, but as it turned out, I was in luck and he was still there. Maybe he works harder than I had given him credit!

I explained to him where I was and what had happened. He listened and then asked what this had to do with him or his company. I explained in words of one syllabub that as he already knew the ransom demand would be made and that as a rule of thumb I thought it would be around the $150,000 mark, give or take. On reflection he should have known this already but I told him anyway. How would his company feel if perhaps we could secure the release of both JR and the Belgian for that sum or maybe less.

“We don’t act for the Belgian so why should we be interested?”

“But somebody does act for him?” I pointed out

“Yes, so I still don’t see what that has got to do with us” He said doggedly.

“Well, I am sure you could enter into dialogue with the company he works for or his insurance company and negotiate a contribution for brokering their clients release.” I said

“Oh I really don’t know that we could” He huffed

“Well look at it his way, you normally pay ransoms….”

“No we don’t , I explained that we …”He interjected rapidly

“Look, I know what you said Mr Platt, but it doesn’t cut any ice with me. However, if you pay us to secure the release you would be paying a legitimate security company for securing the release of yours and their client. That is bound to sit better with the powers that be plus you will actually save money” I said

“How?”

I really had not expected him to be this thick. I spelt it out in simple terms.

“You get 150 grand from the other company, which you pay us, they get their man back and you get your man back for nothing. Plus no bad guys get any money. Politically you can tell everyone who will listen that you have sent a strong message to the bringers of evil etc that crime doesn’t pay etc etc”

“You make a lot of money out of this” He said.

“Not really” I said ” Look we have a team of 10 blokes, travel and accommodation expenses and then there is kit we need to buy and hire plus we do need to get paid you know” To be honest, we would have done it for nothing for JR as he is one of us, but if you can pick up a few bob in the process all the better, and better the money goes in our pockets and than those of some murdering, kidnapping, bad assed dudes.

He said he would ring me back. I didn’t have to wait long. He rang me back in about 5 minutes and told me that we had a deal and we could discuss terms the next day. In the meantime they had an arrangement with an affiliated insurance company where we were and he understood they had someone who could help with reading the sign language.

I rang the number Platt had given me and spoke to a very helpful chap who said I could see a Miss J’kano at 8.30 the next morning.

Cyclops came back to us and said he had had some luck on the building and village but could not be positive. He gave us the name and location of a village, which he thought was the one referred to by the lady I had spoken to. He also told me that he had had contact from the surveillance team. There was not a major problem but the surveillance car was being changed and the baby sitters had taken over watching O’Hara. Apparently they had tried ringing me but could not get through, anyway they would explain all later.

I went for a little amble around the hotel to stretch my legs and on the way back into the reception stopped by the tourist brochures. There were all sorts of goodies on offer including boat trips to see turtles and wild life, and less common to look at the various off shore oil installations. Not the thing of Sir David Attenborough’s wildlife documentaries I grant you, but different. For a brief moment, I had an image of some bloke doing a business pitch to his local bank manager about how he was going to get tourists to this inhospitable part of west Africa and then persuade them to part with more wedge to be bounced around in little boats to look at ugly bits of industrial ironmongery. Maybe it was the heat and humidity, but I think it was my knowledge of this country that made me find the whole thing so funny. I started to laugh out loud and drew some worried looks from other people in the lobby. I stifled my guffaws and continued looking at the leaflets and flyers. Alternatively, we could go for a hot air balloon ride. Very popular with people on safari in Kenya, but this was not Kenya. To be honest, the photo of a bunch of grinning, murderous looking Herberts with a decidedly ropey looking balloon did not do much to inspire confidence. In fact one of them looked very much like a black Richard Branson and lets face it, his ballooning efforts have often ended in disaster have they not? However there was one little thing that did catch my eye. It was for plane flights over the area with an experienced crew. I noted the name and number of the company and decided maybe we could do a bit of aerial reconnaissance.

One of the lads rang and spoke to the charter company and arranged a flight for 1pm the next day.

The surveillance car got in about 7pm. They had had a very long day but not without results.

After dropping me off, O’Hara had not gone back to his office, but had driven to a plush neighbourhood. It is easy to forget, that even in place like this, there are places where the very rich live. Despite the picture painted so far in this story there are some very rich people here. This is a land of oil. In fact it is because there are very rich people that the kidnapping business is so lucrative. Anyway O’Hara had gone calling on a man of Middle Easter origin. He was obviously very very rich and had the trappings to go with it. He had very good physical security at the house (cameras, alarms etc) as well as what appeared to be armed men around the perimeter. All the security people were white and from what they saw our lads would have said that the majority were Russians, some French and possibly a couple of Brits. His security included personal protection officers (PPO) and back ups for each of his five children as well as for him and his wives. It would seem that if any family member left the confines of the house it was in a convoy. There was a PPO and back up man in the car with the individual and this car was sandwiched between a lead vehicle and followed by a pursuit vehicle. Very pro set up, you would want to think twice before trying to snatch one of this blokes babies.

So who was this middle eastern man of mystery? Well fortunately for us there was a nice brass plaque outside the house with the gentleman’s name and the address on it. How very helpful. Having been so helpful our lads felt it only fair to stop and take a note of said details. The down side was, that in getting these details, the hire car had been compromised for surveillance purposes. It needed to be changed hence why they baby sitters had taken over the watching role.

Back to the visit by our man O’Hara. He only stayed about 10 minutes and did not look too happy when he left. They followed him to what it would seem was his house. Not as swish as the Arabs but not bad by all accounts. He did not have bodyguards but he did have a reasonable amount of security. There is nothing odd about this in this neck of the woods and despite the fact that I often pooh pooh CCTV and alarms etc in the UK, it is bloody foolish not to have this type of set up in many parts of Africa.

As I said the hire car had been compromised for surveillance and need to be changed. So rather mysteriously it suddenly developed an electrical fault. I am sure you will understand, that they had no choice, but to take it back to the car hire firm who rather reluctantly had replaced it. They were out of basic and only had a small Toyota 4×4. It was a sort of Rav4 thing, but went by a different name I think. Initially, the hire car people said they wanted to charge extra money, but that was soon kicked into touch by our lads said they would ring head office as they not happy at breaking down having only had the car 24 hours and it was giving them stick.

The info that the surveillance team on the Middle Eastern man had gathered was passed to Cyclops.

After our meet it was time to go our separate ways.

We all ate in the hotel but the lads were together and I was on my own as per out plan. I had snatched a couple of books when leaving London and was now reading a novel called “Ralphs Party” by Lisa Jewell. It is a very good book and I was well into it and rather enjoying a bit of time on my own, when my phone rang.

“Target parked at hotel entering reception may be on his way in to see you”

I could see two of the lads had left the table and were hovering at a discreet distance and one other had gone totally, it would seem they had been made aware of the situation as well. That sort of quick action is what makes a good team. There is no room for going on the lash or pissing about, because you never know when trouble will come looking for you. Sometimes its a real bummer because you really feel like necking a few beers, but this is not the time or place. You are here to work.

The next thing who should come striding in but but bloody O’Hara and for some reason he seemed surprised to see me on my own with a paper back propped up in front of me.

“Do you mind if I sit down?” He asked

“Feel free, fancy something to eat?” I said amicably

“Yeah ok, I don’t mind eating here” he said. I suspected this was because it was an American Hotel and not because the food was anything to write home about. Although to be fair the food wasn’t bad. Hark at me restaurant critic, especially when outside the luxury of the hotel there was such poverty and hardship and people starving.

He ordered some food and a drink. He was ill at ease and kept shifting about. Due to my very finely honed people skills I had worked out that he did not like me very much. Can’t think why, but I do seem to have this adverse effect on people.

“We have had a ransom demand” he said in hushed tones

“Oh really how much?” I asked

He looked around like a crap actor in a Mickey mouse spy film

“150” he whispered

“Thousand Dollars I presume” I clarified in an ordinary voice

“Yes of course” he snapped looking round furtively.

“Seems like a lot, because when we first spoke you were asking if I could raise some cash and I was talking in the realms 5 or 10 thousand”

He shifted in his seat and suddenly looked very big and very dangerous

“Look fella that’s about the going rate. I don’t make the rules or set the figures.” He dropped his voice to a hiss “If you’ve got gripes about the price, walk into the swamp and have a chat with these fuckin jungle bunnies over a cup of goddamn tea. I am just tellin you what they have asked for” his eyes were hard and business like but I detected something else. I thought it was fear but maybe it was just a hint of doubt or insecurity. Whatever it was there was a flicker and I did not want to fuel that at this stage.

“OK O’Hara keep your hair on, I get your drift, its just a lot of money that’s all” I carried on eating and he pushed his food about. “How was the demand made?”

“What?”

“How was the demand made?” I reiterated

“Through an intermediary”

“When?”

“This afternoon”

“Was it made to the company”

“Directly to me. Hostages are told to give my name and number”

“So why the intermediary?” I asked

“Well he looks after the other sides interests” O’Hara answered as if it was so obvious.

“Oh yes of course and I suppose he got hold of you at the office because JR and the other bloke had given your details”

“Gee fella I think you might be getting this at last. You’re one hell of a fast learner”

What a fucking surprise all that was. NOT. It could be coincidence of course, but I don’t suppose for a frigging instant that the demand was made at the time O’Hara was making his little house call. It would be just too much to suppose that the intermediary was from the Middle East. The lying sack of shit. But I was happy he had given us a 100% stone bonker lie that could be proved. I said nowt and carried on eating as if in contemplation.

“I see, well I will need to see what I can do about getting funds released and transferred over here. What do we do now?” I said with an air of resignation and defeat.

O’Hara visibly relaxed and ate with a little more enthusiasm.

“Well, err sure of course all that will take some days, but if you can just sit tight and let me know when the funds are available that would be great, in the meantime, I and the intermediary will enter into meaningful dialogue with the kidnappers” He smiled. “I gotta keep the routes of communication open and we have to try to work to a common goal and resolution”

I wanted say “Which means what exactly, ” but didn’t. I now had no doubts that O’Hara was running with both the fox and the hounds.

2 Responses to “Kidnapped 7 – Fox and Hounds”

  1. Oh yeah, he’s running.
    (Lying sack of shit.)

    I hate O’Hara!!!

    So glad you’re back, Norman.
    This is HOT!!!

  2. John Humphries says:

    Sounds like those two are partners.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.